Not to be confused with yesterday's show about podcasting, this episode talks about how my podcast listening habits have changed over time from being very Apple and Evernote centric in 2011 to story and music centric in 2016. To make a long story short, if the show doesn't evolve, I lose interest.
One of the few things I do not have a proper backup of is my podcast subscription list. While it's incredibly easy to keep backups1, it's not a task that sits high on my priority list. It's just one of those tiny hassles I don't want to think about, so I simply don't think about it. That said, if I did have a weekly backup going back five or six years, it would show quite a change in tastes. There was a time when I listened to just about every show that came out of 5by5 and 70Decibels. I used to look forward to The Talk Show back when it was Dan Benjamin and John Gruber. By listening to these shows along with Mac Power Users, I was convinced that my next computer would not be Windows powered and so, in September of 2012, I picked up a Mac.
But as time wore on, I stopped listening to the shows and moved on to other programs. Then I grew weary of those shows and moved on again. Today's playlist looks nothing like the playlist from five years ago, and I wouldn't enjoy going back to those early lists for one simple problem: Over the last 5 years, I've continued to grow and evolve. Many of the early shows I've listened to have not. They're exactly the same today as they were five years ago, only with better earnings per episode.
That said, there are some shows that have been in the podcast subscription list for more than three years. Shows like 99% Invisible, Eat This Podcast, and Vonyc Sessions are staples that I look forward to. Snap Judgement and CBC's Laugh Out Loud are also main stays that I'd hate to lose2. Stop Podcasting Yourself and The Ubuntu Podcast are relatively new additions, and they've been so enjoyable that I've even gone back and listened to a few years of past episodes. It's not often I do that at all.
What all these shows have in common that productions from 5by5, Mule, Gimlet, Relay.fm, Trek.fm, and other podcasting networks lack is a noticeable evolution over time. Compare a recent episode of a show from any of the five networks I listed above to an episode from two years ago and you'll be surprised at how little has changed. Depending on the time of year, you'll probably hear the exact same subjects, points, and complaints get discussed as well. Do the same with any of the shows from the previous paragraph and you'll be hard-pressed to find similarities, though Laugh Out Loud gets a pass as it's mainly just 25 minutes of stand-up from Canadian comics. Different people every week means different jokes and different personalities.
Maybe I'm unjustly demanding, however, shows that don't evolve are doomed to stagnation and listeners are bound to take their attention somewhere else. One-trick ponies fail to remain relevant for long.
- Backing up a subscription list is incredibly easy. Export an .opml file from the podcast application — if possible — and store it somewhere. ↩
- Snap has come close to being dropped from the subscription list on a few occasions because of the excessive pleas for donations, but I've never been able to pull the trigger. Luckily, pledge drives only happen once or twice a year on most podcasts. ↩